Saint Augustine

Born: 354. Died: 430.

Saint Augustine


- Faith and understanding go hand in hand: Understand that you may believe; believe that you may understand.

- True happiness consists in knowledge of God.

- Father, Son and Spirit coinhere in the Godhead as the faculties if memory, intellect and will coinhere in the human mind.

- Individual beings in the midlle empirical world have developed out of the primeval matter God created ex nihilo with the help of seminal powers implanted in it.

- Not only sin but also guilt has been transmitted from Adam as a consequence of the 'Fall' by way of concupiscence, which Christ alone has avoided.

- As a consequence of Adam's sin, humankind was condemned, but God has chosen to predestine some to salvation as an act of grace while permitting others to be lost.

- The church on earth is a mixed body of saints and sinners outside of which there is no salvation.

- So long as human civilization lasts, there will be two 'cities', one composed of those who desire to serve themselves and to grasp worldly power, the other of those who desire to serve God and who would forfeit power.


Augustine was educated as a rhetorician in the former North African cities of Tagaste, Madaura, and Carthage. Between the ages of 15 and 30, he lived with a Carthaginian woman whose name is unknown; in 372 she bore him a son, whom he named Adeodatus, which is Latin for 'the gift of God'.

Inspired by the philosophical treatise Hortensius, by the Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, Augustine became an earnest seeker after truth. He considered becoming a Christian, but experimented with several philosophical systems before finally entering the church.

For nine years, from 373 until 382, he adhered to Manichaeism, a Persian dualistic philosophy then widely current in the Western Roman Empire. About 383 Augustine left Carthage for Rome, but a year later he went on to Milan as a teacher of rhetoric. There he came under the influence of the philosophy of Neoplatonism and also met the bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose, then the most distinguished ecclesiastic in Italy. Augustine presently was attracted again to Christianity.

He returned to North Africa and was ordained in 391. He became bishop of Hippo (now Annaba, Algeria) in 395, an office he held until his death.

Augustine's doctrine stood between the extremes of Pelagianism and Manichaeism. Against Pelagian doctrine, he held that human spiritual disobedience had resulted in a state of sin that human nature was powerless to change. In his theology, men and women are saved by the gift of divine grace; against Manichaeism he vigorously defended the place of free will in cooperation with grace.

Augustine died at Hippo, August 28, 430.

Major Works of Saint Augustine

- Acts or Disputation Against Fortunatus the Manichaean
- Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental
- Against Two Letters of the Pelagians
- Answer to the Letters of Petilian, Bishop of Cirta
- The City of God, 413-426
- Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen
- Concerning the Nature of Good, Against the Manichaeans
- Confessions, 397-398
- The Correction of the Donatists
- Enarrations, or Expositions, on the Psalms
- Enchiridion
- The Harmony of the Evangelists
- Letters of St. Augustine
- The Literal Meaning of Genesis
- Of Continence
- Of Holy Virginity
- Of the Works of Monks
- On Baptism, Against the Donatists
- On Care to be Had For the Dead
- On Christian Doctrine, 397-426
- On Faith and the Creed
- On Free Choice of the Will
- On Grace and Free Will
- On Holy Trinity
- On Lying
- On Man's Perfection in Righteousness
- On Marriage and Concupiscence
- On Merits and Remission of Sin, and Infant Baptism
- On Nature and Grace
- On Patience
- On Rebuke and Grace
- On the Catechising of the Uninstructed
- On the Creed: A Sermon to Catechumens
- On the Gift of Perseverance
- On the Good of Marriage
- On the Good of Widowhood
- On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin
- On the Immortality of the Soul
- On the Morals of the Catholic Church and on the Morals of the Manichaeans
- On the Nature of the Soul and its Origin
- On the Predestination of the Saints
- On the Proceedings of Pelagius
- On the Profit of Believing
- On the Soul and Its Origin
- On the Spirit and the Letter
- On the Teacher
- On Two Souls, Against the Manichaeans
- Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount
- Reply to Faustus the Manichaean
- Retractions
- Soliloquies
- To Consentius: Against Lying
- Treatises on the Gospel of John
- The Trinity, 400-416

Quotes from Saint Augustine

- "A city is [not] fortunate when its walls are standing, while its morals are in ruins." (from "The City of God")

- "Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale?" (from "The City of God")

- "As a youth I had been woefully at fault, particularly in early adolescence. I had prayed to you for chastity and said, "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet." For I was afraid that you would answer my prayer at once and cure me too soon of the disease of lust, which I wanted satisfied, not quelled." (from "Confessions")

- "In the memory everything is preserved separately, according to its category." (from "Confessions")

- "My inner self was a house divided against itself." (from "Confessions")

- "My will was perverse and lust had grown from it, and when I gave in to lust habit was born, and when I did not resist the habit it became a necessity. These were the links which together formed what I have called my chain, and it held me fast in the duress of servitude." (from "Confessions")

- "When large numbers of people share their joy in common, the happiness of each is greater because each adds fuel to the other's flame." (from "Confessions")

- "Why does truth engender hatred?" (from "Confessions")

- "You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you." (from "Confessions")

- "There is no salvation outside the Church." (from "On Baptism")

- "Let me know myself, Lord, and I shall know Thee." (from "Soliloquies")

- "Necessity has no law." (from "Soliloquies")

- "Believe that you may understand. (Crede ut intelligas.)" (from "A Guide for the Perplexed" by E. F. Schumacher)

- "Be always displeased at what thou art, if thou desirest to attain to what thou art not." (from "Emblems" by Francis Quarles)

- "An unjust law is no law at all." (from "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" by Martin Luther King, Jr.)

- "Love, and do what you will!" (from "Espistolam Joannis Ad Parthos")

- "Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues; hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance." (from "Spiritual Diary: Selected Sayings and Examples of Saints" by Daughters of St. Paul)


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